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Metro gives east Portland bikeway and safety projects highest rankings for federal funding

Posted by on October 20th, 2016 at 11:09 am

map-halsey-safety-access

The top-ranked project would make walking and rolling to 82nd Avenue and Gateway much easier.

The Cully neighborhood would get a new biking and walking “parkway” and big roads that run through two major commercial districts in east Portland near I-205 could be updated and vastly improved for people on bikes and foot if the City of Portland is able to convince Metro to give them the cash to do it.

A $130 million pot of federal funding is up for grabs through Metro’s “regional flexible funding” program. Of that amount, $33 million is up for transportation projects. Unlike most federal funds, RFF money isn’t tied to the federal gas tax and can be spent on a wide variety of projects — including infrastructure that makes it easier to walk and roll.

The 31 proposed projects — four in the freight category where there’s $7.3 million available and 27 in the active transportation category where there’s $25.8 million available — come from pre-existing lists put together by cities and counties throughout the region. A committee at Metro has already given each project a technical ranking and PBOT has earned gold and silver: Their plan to update NE Halsey street and make it easier to walk and roll to the 82nd Avenue MAX light rail station is ranked #1 and their “walking and biking parkway” through the Cully neighborhood on NE 72nd is ranked #2.

Here’s the entire list with final rankings on the right (I’ve put a star next to PBOT’s projects):

rff-rankinglist

The Halsey project is estimated to cost $5.1 million total (PBOT is requesting $3 million from Metro) and would build a new separated bike lane from 65th to 83rd, a neighborhood greenway connection between Tillamook and Halsey along 65th and 81st, and a new multi-use path that would connect 81st (at Halsey) to a new path over I-205 near Gateway Green.

The $6 million Cully Parkway project (PBOT is asking Metro for half that amount) would build a multi-use path on both sides the west side of NE 72nd Avenue from Killingsworth to Fremont.

map-cully-parkway

If funded, the City’s NE Halsey Safety and Access to Transit project would be just the latest bit of good news for this currently auto-centric “high crash corridor.” As we reported last month, PBOT has a shovel-ready project to redesign outer Halsey with buffered bike lanes and new sidewalks between 122nd and the Gresham border. In between these two City projects, the Portland Development Commission has already announced plans to build protected bikeways on the Halsey-Weidler couplet just east of I-205, making it one of the bike-friendliest commercial streets in the entire city.

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Map of PDC's Gateway Regional Center shows location of Halsey and Stark in relation to I-205.

Map of PDC’s Gateway Regional Center shows location of Halsey and Stark in relation to I-205.

In addition to the changes on Halsey, PBOT has also requested $300,000 to further develop these projects and do public outreach not just on Halsey but further south on Stark Street as well. Among the goals of their Outer Stark/Halsey Complete Streets project is an, “Evaluation of alternative cross-sections for all roadway segments and major intersection approaches to determine optimal allocation of right-of-way between medians, turn lanes, median islands, travel lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks, parking, etc.” This is the type of outreach and analysis they need to do prior creating concrete designs for significant streetscape changes (like the ones planned for Halsey) in the future. This project has been ranked sixth out of the 27 flexible fund project candidates.

(Note: Both the Halsey-Weidler couplet and the Stark-Washington couplet are part of the PDC’s Gateway Regional Center urban renewal area.)

The key to these strong rankings isn’t just because these projects would improve safety for everyone, it’s because they would do it in a place with above average concentrations of low-income, elderly, and non-white households. “Residents of these communities, many of whom have limited or no access to motor vehicles, and some of whom had been displaced from inner Portland neighborhoods with better active transportation infrastructure,” reads PBOT’s grant application, “will benefit from the ultimately constructed project by having access to safer infrastructure for walking, bicycling and accessing transit.”

If you like the sound of these projects, now is the time to comment. Metro has a great interactive comment map where you can learn more about all the projects. You can also email transportation@oregonmetro.gov or come to a public hearing at 4:00 pm on October 27th at Metro headquarters (600 NE Grand Ave). To see the full project grant applications and learn more about regional flexible funds, see this page at OreognMetro.gov.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Eric Leifsdad
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Eric Leifsdad

I’m really tired of ranking and re-ranking the importance of capital projects to build essential space for non-car transportation years or decades from now while we give cars the run of everything in the meantime. Every street should be safe to walk and bike on — any portions that aren’t should be closed to cars until the problem is fixed. (Drivers, pipe down. “Closed” still only means slow down or go around. It’s not like we’re going to force you to walk.)

Chris I
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Chris I

The road diet on Halsey is badly needed. That street absolutely does not need 4 auto lanes. I ride it eastbound in the early morning and just take the right lane. On the way home in the afternoon I have to detour to Tillamook because there are more cars on the road, going very fast.

Oh, and the Halsey overpass should be included in this. The current state is dangerous.

SE Rider
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SE Rider

Plug for the Brentwood-Darlington project (#11) which will complete much needed sidewalks on the two main arterials in the neighborhood, as well as create the neighborhoods first greenway. These improvements are desperately needed for safe routes to schools, currently kids have to walk in the street in sections to avoid mud puddles.

I agree that it is really silly to pit these project against each other as they’re all important and valuable.

Kari Schlosshauer
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Kari Schlosshauer

And while you’re in there commenting, you may want to take a look at some of the other “active transportation projects” that may in fact be a thinly veiled road widening with nothing but paint for a bikelane on a freight route and 40mph (non-Portland projects, natch).

And comment appropriately.

nuovorecord
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nuovorecord

I wouldn’t call that Outer Stark/Halsey project anywhere close to “shovel ready.” PBOT’s funding request is for project development and design. That’s not indicative of “shovel ready.”

I wear many hats
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I wear many hats

I just sent an email prior to commenting on this thread. How many above can say the same? They just need to hear support. So give it to them.

David Lewis
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Portland is not a war zone, so can someone explain to me why the projects proposed here don’t already exist?

Matt- Bike Milwaukie
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It seems a bit premature to be reporting on this considering the ‘committee at Metro’ has only met once, out of the three total meetings they will have.

Todd Hudson
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Todd Hudson

The Halsey project is an improvement, but it still leaves that area pretty screwy for safe biking. Living just north of Madison NS, there isn’t a really great route heading points south, just a cattywumpus bunch of residential streets. The connection from Halsey to NE 81st is nice, but the Madison-RoseCityGOlfCourse monolith still means riding on 82nd or going over to 72nd Drive to go north.

Improving the connection to Gateway would be nice too – either by widening the bike/walk route on the Halsey flyover, that rumored tunnel under 205, or building a bike/ped bridge across the highway. I’m guessing the last two won’t happen soon because a bridge is huge $$$ and a tunnel would immediately become a huge bum camp.

Bjorn
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Bjorn

I have heard that the cully project would create a multiuse path on the east side of 72nd but would do nothing on the west side of 72nd. (note in your article it says there would be a MUP on both sides of the street) I live on the west side of the street and my property has a sidewalk but that sidewalk just disappears as you walk north toward killingsworth. I like the idea of a protected MUP on the east side of the street, but we want to see the sidewalk built north to killingsworth too. As an aside, the city inexplicably after an appeal allowed a developer to put in 3 new houses on 72nd without building the normally required sidewalk. The people in those houses now park multiple cars where the sidewalk should be forcing people to walk in the street to get around them.

curious
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curious

I am curious about the safety of the proposed bike lanes because there is a bike lane on the same street as the bus. I am so sick of being doored and nearly doored, stopped by ubers and others pulling over in bike lanes to let people out, and having to weave around buses that are so long it’s frightful when you can’t be seen. Does this make sense to everyone else that it would be on the same street as a bus, rather than another. Ulitmately I really want the bikes running the middle of the road, away from cars or lanes as a part of the sidewalk, so kids can be on them safely.

Daily Cyclist
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Daily Cyclist

As I cyclist, I see a majority of other bikers confused by all the new bike facilities. We need more education to accompany all the new green paint. And, as a pragmatist, I’d like to see some comprehensive return on investment analysis.